top of page


Its no wonder that Gila County is the ‘prize catch’ for Arizona anglers: with state records for bass, crappie and catfish caught in our cobalt-blue lakes, cooler summertime temperatures, and lakeside landscape that offers a choice of Sonoran Desert saguaros - or the shade of towering Ponderosa Pine forests. With a few easy clicks on this website you’ll find lakefront camping that accommodates your luxurious 5th wheel, or private sites preferred by simpler tent-campers.


Payson, AZ is the heart of Mogollon Rim country - an outdoor paradise beckoning anglers. Rim Country lakes are within easy and scenic drives from Payson; elevations here range from about 5,000 feet to 7,000 feet, waters usually surrounded by forests of pine, cedar and oak. Most lakes in the Payson area prohibit gas-powered motorboats. For a pristine backcountry lake, choose those which must be accessed via short hikes  (no trucks, quads or side-by-sides) that invite a moderate walk through breathtaking landscapes. Lakes such as these lure devout fisherman with trout, warm-water sportfish - and verdant camping spots.


Roosevelt Lake is central to Gila County, and our most popular fishing destination, with robust fish populations that support seasonal tournaments for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass and Crappie. Popular all year-round with anglers seeking sunfish, or either catfish species (‘Channel Cats’ and Flatheads), Roosevelt’s world-class fishery gives Gila County braggin’ rights with professional tournaments such as the Wild West Bass Trail Western Team Championship.

Nearly as famous is San Carlos Lake, formed by the confluence of two rivers impounded by Coolidge Dam on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. State records have been pulled from San Carlos Lake, but fluctuating levels have made access unreliable - make sure to contact the Apache Recreation and Wildlife Department for up-to-date lake conditions and boat ramp access. Tribal permits are required to fish, camp and hike on the reservation.  For more info on San Carlos Tribal permits click here.  Fewer anglers venture to the waters of Talkalai Lake, Seneca, Point of Pines Lake, or numerous livestock ponds on the reservation.

Whether you prefer waters that meet steep canyon walls or mountain lakes surrounded by forests of pine, you will discover how great fishing is in Gila County, Arizona.

For an Arizona Game and Fish License please visit:


Photo by:  WIld West Bass Trail


& Pond Fishing

Diverse wildlife and varied habitats make fishing on Gila County, Arizona lakes an extraordinary adventure.   If you like seclusion, cooler weather and a diversity of mother natures landscaping, then fishing on any of these lakes will leave you wanting more.  From the scenic high country surrounded by pine forests, to the mass of Roosevelt Lake, to the beauty and wildness of the San Carlos Indian Reservation...there is something "Big" waiting for you.  Click on the links below for more information about each fishery.

SF:       Sun Fish

BC:      Black Crappie

CAR:   Carp

Fish Species Legend:

AT:       Apache Trout
RB:      Rainbow Trout
FC:      Flathead Catfish

LMB:   Largemouth Bass
SMB:   Smallmouth Bass
BT:       Brown Trout


Streams, Creeks & Reservoirs

Photo by:  Max Wilson

Small Stream fishing is more than just fishing. It is the part of living in the America we all love - the freedom of wide open spaces.  Getting out to the woods, away from the city and forgetting about time, satisfies our deep desire for peace and quiet. Gila County, Arizona stream fishing is an anglers dream, with Brown and Rainbow trout that will not disappoint!  The next time you get the urge to put on the hip waders or just throw a line from the bank, we invite you to get out and Explore the Wild and Discover Gila County.  Click on the links below for more information.

Fish Species In Gila County

These species of fish are the most commonly caught fish in Gila County.


Apache Trout

The apache trout is considered to be critically endangered by the IUCN.  It is a rare catch.


Rainbow Trout

The rainbow trout is an extremely valuable species in any and all of its forms. It is native to the west coast of North America from southern Alaska to Mexico.  The Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks this fish in most of the high country lakes and streams.


Flathead Catfish

The flathead catfish is a popular food fish has an excellent flavor.


Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is the most popular freshwater game fish in the U.S. Learn more about how you can identify a largemouth bass, where to catch it and what bait and lures to use.


Smallmouth Bass

The smallmouth bass is the second largest member of the sunfish family attaining a weight of almost 12 lb.


Brown Trout

The brown trout is one of the world’s most widely distributed and highly esteemed freshwater fish.


Black Crappie

bottom of page